A short summary of my career path would really consist of having done my
GSCEs and then I got the A-levels I needed to go to Queen’s University
to study politics of all things! Then after a year and a half of the degree,
I was offered a job here. So it was crunch time, a big decision time and
then, having spoken with so many people in here, within the BBC and then
with family and friends and everything else, I just thought I’m going
to take the chance and go with it!
In terms of presenting, I think there’s not a set degree or qualification
that you need. Certainly maybe journalism would be of interest to an awful
lot of presenters because a lot of it seems to consist of interviewing
people, constantly in fact. But other than that I think that it never ever
does any harm to have a degree behind you and I think that I would always
recommend that, even though I haven’t done it myself as yet. It’s
more experience than anything else and if you can get experience in radio
or television or independent production companies I think that’s
where the real experience will lie, and that’s your basis for getting
a job then.
I come in at whatever time is necessary, depending on if I’m interviewing
someone. I might be going to London for the day, so I’m getting maybe
a seven o’clock flight and then I’m back that night at twelve.
Every single day is different. So really it’s very, very hard to
plan, which is a downside of it as well.
Dress code really more than anything you have to think heat. A lot of the
time for me, I’m out and about. So I have to think of warm, of being
warm and keeping myself warm. So I’ve got vests and I’ve got
about ten layers on underneath a big, big coat, and gloves and scarves
and everything else. But other than that, if you’re in the studio,
you can go a little bit more glam, a little bit more funky, which I would
like to do more.
A lot of people assume that you’re making vast amounts of money if
you’re on television. You’re actually not really. I was a floor
manager before I came to this, and I did ok doing that. So really it’s
not that there’s huge amounts of money at this stage, but certainly
there is the potential if you’re prepared to go across the water
or go somewhere else possibly too.
What I love most about my job would be the fact that I get to meet so many
different sorts of people and particularly doing the First Stop programme
that I do at the moment. I mean, recently we flew over and we met Matt
Damon and we were doing an interview with him, and we met James Van Der
Beek, who’s Dawson from Dawson’s Creek – they’re
two of my big names in the last couple of weeks. It’s just such an
unusual sort of career – because here I was on a plane going to interview
Matt Damon! And I get to do so many different sorts of things – I’ve
been a rally car driver, I’ve been hang gliding, I’ve been
up in helicopters – and really, the average job doesn’t allow
you to do that. so I think that the best thing about my job is that it’s
so varied, and every single day is so different. And you do get to do exciting
things and meet fantastic people.
I think probably the best skills to have, more than anything being able
to chat with people and being relaxed as well and not really being taken
with it all – you have to keep your feet on the ground. You have
to have a certain level of confidence, but being able to talk with people
and having a good personality and being very calm as well, being able to
cope with things under pressure, because that will crop up too. If you’re
in the studio, if you’re doing a live piece or if you have to get
something right down to two minutes thirty two, you have to be able to
do those sorts of things, so it’s coping with pressure as well. And
basic things within an office, like your computer skills and being able
to type quite quickly, being able to write scripts and being able to adapt
scripts to suit a certain length of time of a piece.
I think people watch television and think that it’s all very, very
glamorous and very glitzy and a wonderful job – and it is a wonderful
job, but at the same time I don’t think that people are necessarily
aware of the fifteen hour day you’ve just put in or that you’ve
been standing up the side of a mountain with wind howling around you. People
assume that you’ve got make-up girls and stylists who pamper you,
but it’s not always the case at all in fact!
I’ve got here having not really tried, and maybe that’s why
I am where I am right now, because I haven’t ever knocked on a door
and been pleading with people to give me a job. I think it’s happened
because someone spotted something in me and I enjoyed it and it’s
sort of just happened quite naturally and I think that’s a lovely
way for it to work out. My best advice would be to keep on trying as best
you can, but in a way that’s not too overpowering to producers and
directors, because when you think of it, there’s so many people who
do that. So I think if you’ve got something natural in you and a
little sparkle, that will shine through.